OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE
The arrival of cruise ship visitors to Cuba continues to grow, up 48% this year. Photo: Juvenal Balán

The U.S. tourist sector remains committed to Cuba as a holiday destination, even as the U.S. government is tightening the blockade against the island. This was stated at a press conference by Michel Bernal Quicutis, commercial director at the Cuban Ministry of Tourism (Mintur), who assured that “We will not give up on reaching the planned 5,100,000 visitors for this 2019.”

As he explained, U.S. citizens continue to occupy second place among visitor source markets to Cuba, behind Canada, with a total of 257,500 visitors in the first four months of the year, representing growth of 93.5%. Of them, 55% arrive to the country aboard cruise ships, a modality that continues to grow, up 48% this year.

“Despite smear campaigns against Cuba, 13.5% of tourists who visit us claim to have chosen the island for its safety, both personal and epidemiological; also because it is a country where there is no organized crime, drug cartels, kidnappings do not occur, and one can enjoy the destination at any time,” Bernal added.

He also reported that, despite the growth of the U.S. market, Cuba’s commercial development is taking place within a complex scenario. “Cuba continues to be the only country in the world where U.S. citizens can not freely travel as tourists, only through one of the 12 authorized licenses,” he recalled. This precisely in the U.S., the same country that claims to be the land of freedom and democracy.

Up until April 2019, Cuba had achieved growth of 7% this year in the arrival of international visitors, which represents 1,930,000 travelers. Despite these results, the high season was marked by difficulties in the main European markets.

“We saw falls between 10% and 13%, concentrated in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain; a reality not only occurring in Cuba, but in other Caribbean destinations. In general, trips by European visitors have decreased in the region.

“However, Canada continues in first place, with growth of 3% and 624,530 visitors. Other markets that stand out for their growth are Russia (19%), Chile (32%) and Colombia (25%),” the Mintur commercial director explained.

He added that Cuba’s International Tourism Fair, FITCuba 2019, will offer a space to consolidate commercial activity for the coming seasons, where participants will be able to appreciate new products and improvements in the quality of facilities.